Seventy years ago, on October 4, 1940, a battalion of the Waffen-SS arrived in Luleå, Sweden. The below photos show the place where they arrived, Luleå harbour. I took the photos today, truly without thinking about the date - that it was exactly 70 years ago.
The place where the first complete German unit to arrive in Sweden arrived exactly 70 years ago. Not much seems to have changed, the wood certainly looks like it could have been around for 70 years.
The battalion was directly transferred to railway carriages that probably were standing on exactly these rails. The buildings in the background constitute the city centre of Luleå.
The battalion was part of the SS-Totenkopfstandarte (SS death´s head regiment) "Kirkenes" that was being set up around Kirkenes in Finnmark in Arctic Norway.
The battalion was transported from Germany to Luleå by the ship Isar, escorted by the Swedish Navy. The ship carried the complete second battalion (1,030 men) of "Kirkenes", which later became part of the SS-Division "Nord". Virtually all battalion weapons were brought over on the same transport, but on Swedish territory the soldiers did not carry their weapons.
From Luleå the battalion was transported by train to Narvik and from there to the province of Finnmark which bordered the then Finnish Petsamo area, beside the Soviet border.
I did not choose the date to take these photos - another person did, even more unaware of the uncanny timing. Weird...
BTW it was the first time I went to the place.
I will be writing more in English about this still rather unknown event in a coming book. In Swedish I have written about it in Slaget om Nordkalotten (1999, with James F. Gebhardt).